Who's Who Top Educators

Michael Bérubé

Title: Professor
Company: The Pennsylvania State University
Location: State College, Pennsylvania, United States

Michael Bérubé, professor at The Pennsylvania State University, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements, and leadership in higher education and publishing.

For almost 40 years, Dr. Bérubé has devoted his career to the classroom, specializing in American literature, cultural studies, and disability studies. Since 2012, he has been the Edwin Erle Sparks professor of literature at Pennsylvania State University; from 2010 to 2017 he was the Director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Penn State, and he currently serves as the associate head of the English department.

Dr. Bérubé has served on the University Faculty Senate from 2012 to 2020, and was elected chair for the 2018-19 academic year. He served three terms on the American Association of University Professors’ prestigious Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure from 2009 to 2018, two terms on the AAUP National Council from 2005 to 2011, and two terms on the International Advisory Board of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes from 2011 to 2017. In 2012-13 he was president of the Modern Language Association, the largest scholarly organization in the humanities in North America.

Dr. Bérubé formerly taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1989 to 2001 as a professor of English. He was also an expert witness for an academic freedom case brought in federal court by the Elias Law Group in 2022-23.

Dr. Bérubé is perhaps best known as a widely published and respected author, having published in a wide variety of academic and popular venues including the New Yorker, the New Republic, Harper’s, and The New York Times Magazine. Most recently, he co-authored “It’s Not Free Speech: Race, Democracy, and the Future of Academic Freedom” with Jennifer Ruth in 2022. He published “Life as We Know It: A Father, A Family, and an Exceptional Child” in 1996, which was influential in the establishment of the field of disability studies and humanities and is the story of his four-year-old son, Jamie, now 32, who has Down Syndrome. Twenty years later, Dr. Bérubé released “Life as Jamie Knows It: An Exceptional Child Grows Up” with Beacon Press in 2016. He published an edition of “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley for W. W. Norton’s “Norton Library” series in 2021. He has published 14 books in all, 12 as author and two as editor. His newest is due in May 2024, “The Ex-Human: Science Fiction and the Fate of Our Species,” via Columbia University Press.

Dr. Bérubé graduated from Regis High School in 1978, subsequently earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Columbia University in 1982, and attended the University of Virginia, where he received a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in English in 1986 and 1989, respectively. He also holds credentials as an expert in academic freedom.

Drawing inspiration from several mentors, Dr. Bérubé was deeply influenced by the works of Richard Rorty, one of the most famous American philosophers of the 20th century. He also cites his parents for providing him with an abundance of books and love of reading and writing. Dr. Bérubé’s mother was notably a book reviewer for the Kirkus Service, and his father wrote for various magazines and newspapers as an educator and teacher’s union organizer in New York.

Dr. Bérubé has received numerous awards, including the Faculty Scholar Medal from Pennsylvania State University in 2012, Penn State’s highest award for research, and in 2022 he received the Francis Andrew March Award from the Modern Language Association, recognizing distinguished service to the profession of English at the postsecondary level. He has twice received honorable mention in the annual collection of Best American Essays (1994, 2000), and his book, “Life as We Know It,” was named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times in 1996 and was selected as one of the Best Books of the Year among six others by Maureen Corrigan of National Public Radio.

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